Conservative and Honest, But Not Plain

I am willing to be described as conservative in dress and honest in speech, but I am unwilling to be characterized as PLAIN.  I am convinced that it might be honest to say that "some" Conservative Friends consider themselves led to plainness in dress and speech, but certainly, many of us in Ohio Yearly Meeting do not.  I suggest that we would be hard pressed to find unity about what plain dress and plain speech mean in general and that these things may represent a "stumbling block" to the Christian Conservative Friend Testimony.  As I read scripture, I am led to think that we, followers of Jesus Christ after the manner of Conservative Friends, are to be filled with the spirit of Christ and our robes are to be glowing white with His glory (Revelations 7:13-17).  That passages goes like this:

. . . And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, "Who are these who are arrayed in white robes?  And from where did they come?"  And I said unto him, "Sir, thou knowest.  And he said to me, "These are they who came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nr any heat.  For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

This is glorious testimony to the fact that His is a spiritual, all inclusive Kingdom and we are reflections of that.  If I am to continue as part of this body of believers, I must stand against any standardized external characteristic expectation that does not unify us in Him.

I think the issue of contemporary costuming to represent a moral position is important, but my leading is to the modest costume of the twenty-first century and not an earlier one.  I would like to believe that we all choose life styles out of spiritual leadings and that we have good explanation to offer to any drawn to ask questions about that life style because of the noticed differences.

As to which discernment practices are more "right" for the time seems to me one of those questions that we can spend a lot of time on.  Shopuld we?  I don't know.  I do know that there are a good number of Friends in our yearly meeting who do not often speak "plainly" (or otherwise) about lifestyle choices.  I would like to speak up for these quiet ones.

The beautiful picture that is at the beginning of the Crossroads web site is an interesting example of something for me.  In it, men and women (I assume from an earlier century) have a community costuming and worship practice (men and women separate) and are in deep submission before the representation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is in their midst.  The Presence is known to be there. . . He is defined by His Lordship and His Compassion. . . He is not plain at all.  He is radiant.  He is above the form and practice.  His hat is a glow.  His costume is compassion.

Faye Chapman
Sixth Month 2006

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